This is a clever book that shows us monsters aren’t always scary & neither are feelings, if you have someone to help you understand them. A kind, little girl takes her colourful but confused monster friend by the hand. She says that his feelings are all stirred up & so he is, too. She lets him know that she can help. Through a bright collage of illustrations, all the different coloured feelings are separated out & put into glass jars to look at – a lovely way of conveying that feelings can be managed & are containable. This is a charming portrayal of ‘what’s shareable is bearable’ & that we need never be alone with experiencing emotions.
There is a simplicity to the words in the story, which offer connections between colours & emotions & what they might lead us to do, but without being prescriptive.
Creating engaging narratives that help to make sense of thoughts, feelings & behaviour can be so useful for children. This is especially so for children who have experienced trauma in the past & who may be very shut down or disconnected from their bodies, or who struggle to focus their thinking. We aren’t telling them how they think or feel but we are offering them some suggestions to ‘try on for size’. Offering empathic narrative, rather than questions, can be a good starting point for connecting with children who really struggle to identify & articulate thoughts or feelings on their own. We reduce the demand upon them to come up with the answers & this can reduce the chances of them feeling as though they have failed & the risk of them tipping into shame or rage.
Empathy forges connection – unconditional acceptance of the child’s inner world coupled with our expressed willingness to journey into our child’s experiences with them. In The Colour Monster, the little girl lets her monster friend know that if he is scared, they can walk through the forest together & that if he is sad, she will hold his hand. Of course, Moffles love connections between colours & emotions & we’ve learned that some monsters do, too.